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capitalism

Reframing finance: From cultures of fictitious capital to de-regulating financial markets

Financialization – the leverage and promotion of anything to be turned into a tradable product – and its cultures are what Haiven addresses in his book Cultures of Financialization: Fictitious Capital in Popular Culture and Everyday Life. Like many authors before him, he indicates that financialization is not only reduced to the transformation of currencies, goods, loans, etc. into tradable financial products such as swaps and futures, but that culture itself is under transformation and is being turned into an object of financial capitalism.

The working unwell

‘Be well’. This is what you hear now at the checkout counter at Walgreens, the largest drugstore chain in America. Employees offer this valediction as they hand over the receipt, and it comes across as eerily sincere. In fact, the phrase was so effective at rattling me out of my consumerist stupor that I said it back – ‘Be well as well’ – but it didn’t quite come out the same way. It sounded mangled, faux-British, and for some strange reason I raised my voice at the end, turning it into a question. I left feeling confused.

Affective capitalism

Issue Editors: Tero Karppi, Anu Laukkanen, Mona Mannevuo, Mari Pajala, Tanja Sihvonen

This special issue aims at describing and understanding the regime of ‘affective capitalism’. In cultural theory, affect is a useful concept for analysing how something stimulates our body and mind. Affect makes us act, exceeding or preceding rationality. In our daily lives we are constantly affected by a plethora of things: our work, our friends, our surroundings, our technologies (Gregg and Seigworth, 2010).

The ethics of the brand

Introduction

Ethical brands have risen to prominence in recent years as a market solution to a diverse range of political, social and, in this case most interestingly, ethical problems. By signifying the ethical beliefs of the firm behind them, ethical brands offer an apparently simple solution to ethical consumers: buy into the brands that represent the value systems that they believe in and avoid buying into those with value-systems that they do not believe in.

'Of luck and leverage'

Of all the uses to which the work of Slavoj Žižek has been put in recent years, Ole Bjerg’s new book on poker and its relationship to capitalism is, to my mind, one of the most interesting and productive. While Žižek is familiar fare in film and new media studies, literature and cultural studies, Bjerg brings Žižek’s (1991) re-reading of Lacan’s concepts of the real, the symbolic and the imaginary to the analysis of a simple game which, as players know, turns out to be exceedingly rich and complex.

Theorizing debt for social change

David Graeber’s 2011 book, Debt: The first 5000 years, has received a great deal of attention in academic, activist, and popular media venues (see Hann, 2012; Kear, 2011; Luban, 2012; Meaney, 2011).* Graeber himself has been credited as instigator and theorist of the Occupy movement (Meaney, 2011); and one of the central goals of Graeber’s book – a crossover book intended for a broad readership – is clearly to support detachment from the sense of moral obligation too many people feel to pay financial de

Free work

Freedom and work relate to each other in peculiar ways. Sometimes, they are considered opposites, since it may be only once we get rid of work or have the luxury of a life of leisure that we can be truly free. This was Marx’s view, for whom – at least most of the time – a clear incompatibility existed between the realm of freedom and the realm of labour.

Poker phases: Draw, Stud and Hold’Em as playforms of capitalism

 ‘Poker is the laboratory of capitalism’. (McDonald, 1950: 23)

When we look at a piece of art, read a piece of literature, watch a film, or listen to a piece of music, it is commonplace to think of these as cultural expressions of the social and historical context in which they are created. Art, literature, film and music are readily recognized as mediums of the Zeitgeist. Poker and other gambling games are rarely thought of in the same fashion. At best, they are considered to be meaningless entertainment, at worst self-destructive vices.

The commons and their im/possibilities

This open issue addresses the question of the (im)possibilities of the commons within contemporary capitalism. It considers the commons within a variety of manifestations, including the Open Software movement, Open Education movement, housing, academia, the arts and art education. The contributions of this issue discuss specific concerns and tensions around capitalist exploitation and commodification of practices of political and creative organizing that go beyond commodification and logics of strategic exchange.

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